Felix Mendelssohn

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49

    Description by John Palmer

    Mendelssohn completed the Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49, on September 23, 1839. For piano, violin and cello, the Trio was published the next year and has since been recognized as one of the composer's best chamber works and is one of his most popular. It is a lively, melodic piece that is satisfying to perform. After his initial work on the Trio, Op. 49, Ferdinand Hiller, a pianist and friend of Mendelssohn, suggested the composer revise the piano part to make it more brilliant. It was this piece that prompted Schumann, in a review, to assert that "Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the most illuminating of musicians...."

    Without introduction, the cello states the song-like main theme of the first movement against a syncopated accompaniment in the piano. Later, the violin joins the cello with a distorted version of the theme. Variations of the theme fill the transition to the second subject, an arching melody on the dominant that is also introduced by the cello. Mendelssohn fragments and layers both themes in the development, which does not stray very far from D minor, the key on which the movement closes. In the recapitulation, Mendelssohn adds a violin counter-melody to support the return of the main theme.

    The piano introduces the second movement, Andante con moto tranquilo, with the melody in the right hand and the accompaniment divided between the hands, as in a number of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words (especially Op. 62, No. 1). Below this, the bass line in the piano walks along methodically and must be carefully balanced with the accompanimental figure and the melody. After the piano states the lyrical, eight-measure theme, the violin repeats it with a counterpoint in the cello.

    Mendelssohn's Scherzo is concise and light. As in the Andante, the piano first states the main theme, which begins to reduce itself to fragments almost immediately. A rhythmic germ from the first theme permeates the movement, except in the more lyrical central section, the theme of which resembles material from the first movement.

    After its first few pages, the Finale begins to sound heavy handed, largely because of the busy piano part. All types of keyboard writing occur in the movement, from close-position chords to swirling arpeggios and chromatic octaves. The cantabile moments are refreshing, as is the shift to D major shortly before the close.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Molto allegro agitato
    2. Andante con moto tranquillo
    3. Scherzo. Leggiero e vivace
    4. Finale. Allegro assai

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186609
    2016 Decca
    2016 Meridian Records 84624
    2016 Resonus / Resonus Classics 10161
    2016 Sony Classical 88875183382
    2015 Recart 0016
    2015 Pavane / Pavane Records ADW 7572
    2015 Challenge Classics CC 72662
    2015 Channel Classics CCSSA 36415
    2015 BIS BIS 2109
    2015 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 364
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 1832
    2014 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 088
    2014 Challenge Classics CC 72615
    2014 Haenssler / Hänssler 93724
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94490
    2013 Naxos 8501064
    2013 Nimbus NI 6219
    2013 Audiomax AUD 9031793
    2013 Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951961
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970490
    2012 Doron Music DRC 4021
    2012 Entertainment Group 12904
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Guild GMCD 7392
    2012 Genuin GEN 12241
    2012 Doron Music 3060
    2012 Romeo Records 72934
    2012 Opus KURA OPK 21001
    2012 RCA Red Seal 88725451452
    2012 Camerata Records CAM 28239
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 002894779464
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Analekta AN 295108
    2011 Decca 421 425-2DH
    2011 Audite 92550
    2011 CPO CPO775052
    2011 Nimbus NI 5875
    2011 Aliud Records ACDHN 0132
    2011 Bridge 9338
    2010 Warner Classics
    2010 Supraphon 40082
    2010 Ars Produktion / Ars Produktion 38059
    2010 Sony Music Distribution 52192
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94039
    2010 Avie 2187
    2010 Camerata Records 28185
    2010 Digital
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2009 ABC Classics 4766960
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 001253300
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4778002
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2009 Pavane 7525
    2009 Centaur Records 2925
    2009 Live Classics 809
    2009 Chandos Classics 10535
    2009 Marquis Records MARQUIS81409
    2009 CRD Records CRD 3459
    2009 Sony Music Entertainment 88697420722
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93888
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697433032
    2009 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution SICC 1013
    2008 EMI Classics 217304
    2008 Brilliant 93164
    2008 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 8027
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93672
    2008 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2007 Challenge Records 72097
    2007 Warner Classics
    2007 Warner Classics 4697866
    2007 Rhino
    2006 Musica Omnia 0205
    2006 Onyx ONYX 4011
    2006 PentaTone Classics 5186085
    2006 Thorofon 25336
    2006 Brilliant 92419
    2005 SPJ Music 8865
    2005 Hyperion 67485
    2005 Brilliant 92370
    2005 Classico 466
    2004 Tudor Records 7074
    2004 ASV/Living Era 646
    2004 MDG 3031241
    2004 Brilliant 92393
    2004 Warner Classics 61492
    2004 Arabesque Z6786
    2003 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243557504
    2003 Music & Arts MACD1113
    2003 Music & Arts CD1113
    2003 Brilliant 99983
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 585294-2
    2003 Philips 000150602
    2003 Preiser Records 90564
    2002 Naxos 8110185
    2002 Supraphon SU36022
    2001 Doremi Records 7790
    2001 Naxos 555063
    2001 Virgin 61312
    2000 Thorofon 2345
    2000 Definitive Records 11126
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63024
    1999 Iron Needle 1342/43
    1999 Analekta FL23110
    1999 Gasparo Records 305
    1999 Discover DICD920588
    1999 Afka 544
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1998 Harmonia Mundi HMT7901335
    1998 Virgin 61442
    1998 Nimbus 5553
    1997 Biddulph Recordings LHW002
    1997 Sound Alive Music 602
    1997 BMG 61767
    1996 Globe 5156
    1995 Sony Classical 67195
    1995 Sony Classical 66571
    1995 Camerata Records 32CM141
    1995 Orfeo 308921
    1995 Sony Classical 64519
    1995 Globe 6030
    1994 BIS 97
    1994 Vox 3029
    1994 Supraphon 111303
    1994 Centaur Records 2397
    1993 Arabesque 6599
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32105
    1993 Dorian 90130
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 64057
    1992 Chandos 8404
    1990 Harmonia Mundi 901335
    1990 Tacet 026
    1990 Teldec 44947
    1990 CBS Records / Sony Classical 46425
    1987 Philips 416297
    SNE 2035
    Monopoly 2005
    Ades 20337
    Canal Grande 9217
    Analekta 2005
    Arkadia 606
    Supraphon 112139
    Meridian Records 84200
    Supraphon 110648
    Vox 9021
    Brilliant Classics 93672/24
    Sony Music Distribution 88697638862
    Brilliant 92393/24
    Brilliant 93164/4
    Harmonia Mundi HMC901961
    Avi 8853141
    Calig 50879
    IBS 1011
    Strings 99315
    Dynamic 15
    RCA 7768
    Sony Music Distribution 66351
    Koch Discover International 920183
    IMP Classics 36
    Fono Enterprise 99343
    Lys 367